Welcome note from Louise Johnson, VARTA CEO
The passage of amendments to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 on 24 February in the Victorian Parliament was a ground-breaking moment for donor conception legislation. The coming year will require significant preparation by VARTA in advance of the implementation of the amendments from 1 March 2017. In particular, VARTA will need to have appropriate systems in place for when it receives - and begins management of - the donor registers, currently managed by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Tickets are now available for the Time to tell seminar which will be held on 16 April. This year we have opened sales with early bird discount rates - a decision which has proved popular as tickets are selling fast.
We are gearing up for our next Your Fertility campaign which will focus on the impact that smoking can have on fertility. The campaign will culminate on World No Tobacco Day and we are excited to be partnering with Quit Victoria on this project.
As part of Law Week this year, VARTA will be hosting a twilight seminar on donor conception, where speakers will explore its social and legislative considerations.
Changes to donor conception legislation
Amendments to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008, allowing all donor-conceived people to access available identifying information about their donors and genetic heritage, were passed on 24 February, 2016 in the Victorian Parliament. The key elements of this legislation include:
- All Victorian donor-conceived people, regardless of when they were born, will have a right to identifying information about their donor, without having to receive consent from their donor. This will mean that donor-conceived people born before 1998 will have the same rights as those born after 1998.
- Contact preferences will be made available to donors and donor-conceived people, allowing them to determine the way in which contact with those with whom they are linked will occur. People will also have the option to choose a 'no contact' preference. If a contact preference is breached, a significant penalty may apply. Contact preferences will also be extended to those legal children of donors or donor-conceived people who are under the age of 18 years.
- Responsibility for managing the central and voluntary registers will be moved to VARTA. The amendments will also enable VARTA to be the 'one door in' provider of support and information to donors, donor-conceived people and their families, as per recommendations made by the Parliamentary Law Reform Committee.
People who have questions or concerns about the legislative changes should call VARTA on 03 8601 5250 for a confidential discussion.
Time to tell seminar
For the first time, VARTA has opened ticket sales to its popular Time to tell seminar with discounted early bird rates - and tickets are selling fast! The seminar, to be held on April 16 at Northcote High School, provides tips on how, when and what to communicate so that parents are empowered and children feel enriched by the unique way in which they came into this world. Speakers include counsellors, parents from different family constellations, donors and donor-conceived young people, who provide insight and advice on all aspects of talking to children about becoming a family with the help of donated eggs, sperm, embryos, or a surrogate to create a family.
Time to tell 2016
Saturday, 16 April 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4 PM
School Hall, Northcote High School, St Georges Road, Northcote, Victoria 3070
Early bird tickets $50 per person are NOW OPEN and available until midnight 16th March. Ticket prices include refreshments and a light lunch. For more information about the event please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (03) 8622 0505
World No Tobacco Day
Your Fertility is collaborating with Quit Victoria this year for World No Tobacco Day on 31 May. It is well know that smoking is linked to many chronic illnesses including cancer and heart disease; however what is less widely understood is that smoking affects fertility and a person’s chances of having a healthy baby.
The risk of infertility among smokers and people exposed to second-hand smoke may be twice that of non-smokers, and the time taken to conceive is significantly increased. The good news is that most of the negative effects of smoking on fertility are reversed one year after stopping.
Be a part of World No Tobacco Day conversation with Your Fertility and Quit Victoria on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.See www.yourfertility.org.au for more information.
Save the date - Law Week twilight seminar on donor conception
As part of Law Week this year, VARTA will be running an evening seminar that discusses donor conception in Victoria and its social and legislative framework. The event will be held on Thursday, 19 May, kindly hosted by Russell Kennedy in their Melbourne's CBD offices. Stay tuned for more information.
Staff changes at VARTA
VARTA is delighted to welcome back Caroline Jordan (nee Comoy) who returned to work in February following a year away on maternity leave. However, we were sorry to say goodbye last week to Hanna Genee who has chosen to finish at VARTA in order to focus on her legal career. We wish Hanna all the best in the future.